- Favourable policy and cross-sector collaboration are essential for the future of 5G
At the 10th annual Mobile Broadband Forum held recently in Zurich, Huawei Deputy Chairman Ken Hu outlined the current status of 5G development around the world. In addition to highlighting the value 5G has already brought to consumers and industries in early adopter countries, he also delved into the importance of favourable policy and cross-sector collaboration for speeding up the next stage of 5G development.
“We’ve made great progress,” said Hu. “But to make the most of 5G, we need to work together to deal with the real challenges that lie ahead: spectrum, site resources, and cross-sector collaboration. 5G is not just faster 4G. It will play a completely different role in our lives, so as an industry, we all need to have a fresh mindset to drive its future development.”
In less than one year after standards were frozen, 5G networks have already seen large-scale commercial deployment, much faster than 4G. Thus far carriers in more than 20 markets have launched a total of 40 commercial 5G networks. More than 60 are expected by the end of the year.
5G is supercharging user experience. In South Korea, the first market to launch a commercial 5G network, local carriers have signed up more than 3.5 million 5G subscribers in less than six months. Much of this growth can be attributed to new services like 5G-powered AR/VR and live 360º HD sports broadcasting. With these services alone, data consumption among early 5G adopters has increased by a factor of three, up to 1.3 gigabytes per month.
Beyond growing data consumption, carriers are seeing more revenue streams as well. For example, South Korean carrier LG U+ released 5G-powered VR/AR services as part of their premium data plans. In just three months after 5G launch, their proportion of premium subscribers grew from 3.1% to 5.3%. Different industries are also deriving new value from the first round of industrial 5G applications. “5G applications for enhanced mobile broadband, entertainment, and manufacturing are already here,” said Hu. “We can’t say for sure what type of applications we’ll see in the future, but right now it’s clear that every single industry will benefit from 5G technology.”
Hu noted that spectrum resources, specifically the cost and availability of spectrum, are one of the most significant barriers that carriers face moving forward. “We hope governments can provide more spectrum resources to carriers, and consider more flexible pricing models. This will reduce the initial CAPEX burden on carriers as they rollout their 5G networks.” Hu also recommended that governments start actively planning to meet new spectrum demand over the next five to ten years, noting that 6GHz spectrum bands are a good starting point.
“Our industry also needs more support for site resources,” Hu continued. “Costs are still too high, and site availability always falls short of demand. Regulators should step up and improve the situation by opening up more public infrastructure for sharing, and providing guidance on site construction.”